(Spoiler Alert! There’s spoilers here! But the game is a fucking year old as of tomorrow and I’m probably the last person to play it anyways. No one is going to be spoiled here.)
First off let me say that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was a fantastically amazing video game and I enjoyed playing it immensely. It’s one of those games I wish I could play for the first time all over again because once you’ve played, explored, and discovered most what the world has to offer you can’t just go back and have that same level of ignorance as you previously did. It’s a beautiful game that is fun as hell, and it’ll probably be the first thing that I write about as being awesome. But alas, one minor thing irked the hell out of me, and even though it’s far from being a game-breaking gripe, it’s still kinda hilarious to think about. I’m talking about the Master Sword “quest” and I’m going to shit all over it.
Part of the problem here is that The Legend of Zelda is such a well known series that the game kinda gives itself away by just being a Zelda game. There’s a princess and a
boat king and Hyrule is in danger and you have to save it because you’re Link and it’s what you do. You somehow get a sword and a shield and set out to destroy Gannon(dorf), the inevitable antagonist of the entire series. In Breath of the Wild all of this is obvious from the first 15 minutes of the game. You climb a tower, see some scary shit that is (Calamity) Gannon dorf and hear a voice from some girl (Princess Zelda), and talk to some old fuck who is the King of Hyrule who is not a boat this time dead. They tell you to save the world. Okay. You’re not surprised or anything because, well, it’s a Zelda game: you know you’re saving the goddamned world. Eventually you leave the starting area and head out exploring and saving the divine beasts and about then you realize a piece of the Zelda puzzle is strangely absent. Where is the Master Sword?
In Zelda history you usually go through half the game collecting shit and then you obtain the Master Sword. It’s your ticket to herodom that shows you’re the motherfucking hero for real. The past games, being rather linear, don’t give you much choice in the matter. In Ocarina of Time you grab the sword if you want to turn into adult link and advance the game. In Link to the Past you find the sword (in the Lost Woods by the way…*cough*…) before you beat minor antagonist Anaganamhim or whatever he’s called. You get the sword midway through Windwaker and Twilight Princess and it’s as big of a part of the Zelda Formula as the triforce or Gannon(dorf). You expect it to appear somewhere in the main quest of BotW. So where (and when) the fuck is it?
You know it’s somewhere but you don’t want to find it because it’s too important to the game. I went into the game trying to be as ignorant as possible but after beating the divine beasts I knew the sword was still out there and I should probably go find it. Even before that I had stumbled upon the Lost Woods. It was obvious because I couldn’t just fly into with Ravioli’s Gale and had to “play the game” to get into the Woods. As stated, a favorite place the Master Sword is hidden series-wise is the Lost Woods and no matter how stupid I tried to be I knew the sword would be found there without being told. I turned around because I didn’t want to find the sword too early and break the game. The sword, being as important as it was, shouldn’t be found by stumbling up in it. I wanted to be told in a gloriously important and meaningful quest to find the sword. Because it was my destiny. Because it was my duty. It’s what has to happen before you kick (Calamity) Gannon’s ass. So I waited to be told to get the sword.
But no one seemed to give two fucks about the sword even though they were aware of it.
Everyone of the Champions or the Leaders of whoever would mention, in passing, something like this: Oh, you don’t have the sword that seals the darkness? Hmmm. Oh well…anyways divine beast Rah Van Ruto-Nibiru is over here and…That was it. They’d mention the sword and carry right on with their story like it wasn’t jack-shit to worry about. Nevermind if it’s the Sword that Seals the Darkness, it’s not that big of a deal. So I played and played the game waiting for the game to tell me to get the goddamn sword and it never did. Was there a quest I was missing? Anything? Nope. You actually have to just stumble upon the Master Sword. Because you know where it is anyways, let’s not play dumb here: it’s in the Lost Woods. This is a Zelda game guys. And you know where the Lost Woods are because, duh. Once again, everyone probably knows what’s going on. It’s the spooky looking place with the scary trees and the fog.
After freeing the four divine beasts I got off my ass, walked into the Lost Woods, acted surprised, found the sword, acted surprised again, and then with my 15 hearts yanked it out like I was a badass or something. There was a cutscene, I was The Hero for Real, and Zelda said some stuff. It was time to kick Calamity’s ass. I was ready because I had the Sword that Seals the Darkness. It truly was an important part of the game that you just have to stumble upon.
In a way it’s cool because it shows Nintendo (finally) broke with the Zelda formula. You can beat the game without the Master Sword (somehow it “sealing the darkness” doesn’t matter much irl?). You can walk immediately to the castle and beat Gannon’s ass as soon as you want to. The game doesn’t hold your hand all the way to the sword and forces you to get it by exploring (or knowing how Zelda games work). The game says “Yo, this sword is important, but don’t worry about not finding it. It’s cool.” That’s what bothers me about it though. The sword is important with its lore, history, and ability to defeat darkness. It is important. But then the game treats it as a footnote that isn’t actually essential to defeating darkness. I like the open-world aspect of the game and how you can do whatever you want, but being sent on a quest to find the sword is just part of Zelda. By glossing over the Master Sword quest it just seems, anticlimactic, I suppose. The Master Sword seems like something so important that it shouldn’t be glossed over in the game. The game is amazing but the Master Sword quest Sucked.